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Students mobilize to expose safety concerns

Students and community members gather on Legion Avenue to look for areas that could be safer and better lit. Photo credit: Brandon Foster

Whether it is on those crazy holiday weekends or just an average school night, Chico experiences a total of 2,805 violent or property crimes.

In an effort to decrease this number, students, community members, and University Police officers came together to find a solution for these unsafe areas. Groups were given flashlights and clipboards for notes. Groups then rallied into areas around campus to expose and bring light to specific safety concerns.

Kassandra Bednarski, commissioner of community affairs for the Associated Students, organized the event as a way to bring Chico State students together to determine what areas of Chico need a spruce in safety.

“The reason that we split off into groups is so we can target more areas,” Bednarski said. “That way we have something more presentable to give to City Council and the university and the other parties involved in that.”

Some of the dark, cold and eerie streets visited were Ivy Street, West 1st Street, West 4th Avenue, North Ceder Street and the bike path.

Johnny Breyer, senior political science and criminal justice major, explains a toll he has taken due to safety in Chico.

“I was at an Up ’til Dawn event and I was coming home,” Breyer said. “I had a MacBook in my backpack and I had guys following me. I had to put my keys in my hand between my knuckles just to feel like I would even the odds if they attacked me.”

The safety walk allowed the A.S. to address one of the main issues involved with lack of safety: lighting.

“Something that we’ve noticed is that the lack of lighting ties into all of the crimes we’ve seen,” Bednarski said. “But this city just doesn’t have the funding for that. So once we are able to bring in all of these people and target those specific areas, we can present that to those private grants and then they will be able to fund us in our hopes to implement more lighting.”

In an effort to gather funding, the A.S. plans to gather statistics on crime rates in Chico and present them to City Council and private companies, she said.

“Once we are able to write down and target the specific areas where we see that lack of lighting, we are going to be able to present that to City Council, the university, PG&E; and other private companies,” Bednarski said. “Then they will see how unsafe those areas are — not just for our students, but for our community members as well.”

Stephanie Schmieding can be reached at [email protected] or @stephbottt on twitter.

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Stephanie Schmieding
Stephanie Schmieding, Editor-in-Chief

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